Besiktas 0 Arsenal 0: Three talking points
Besiktas 0 Arsenal 0: Three talking points as 10-man Gunners dug deep at Ataturk Stadium
Gunners flatter to deceive
Arsenal fans might well say it was only the result that really counted after a goalless draw with Turkish outfit Besiktas on Tuesday evening, and, to be fair, it’d be hard to argue against them. Looking at the starting line-ups beforehand, though, it looked like the Gunners would come through this one with a little more than just their pride intact. But in the end, they didn’t even have that. And after Aaron Ramsey was sent off in the closing stages for a needlessly silly second instance of shirt pulling, it was clear this wasn’t to be their night. Lacking enthusiasm in an imposing environment – despite the running track skirting the Ataturk Olympic Stadium – the north Londoners looked a shadow of the side their potential suggests they should be. Returning to the Emirates with everything still to play for, Arsene Wenger will obviously feel as though this one is still within their capacity to close out, but he’ll certainly be hoping for a better display next time out. Having not performed amazingly against an unstable Crystal Palace side either in their opening Premier League match of the season, the early signs don’t look too good. But time heals all, and with the games now coming thick and fast, they might soon recapture their form.
Besiktas prove themselves
Slaven Bilic will be happy, despite getting sent to the stands, with the way their mid-week tie against Arsenal turned out. Heading to England with everything still to play for, although the odds remain firmly stacked against them, they’ll feel little or no pressure with the whole situation. Playing without any real fear of their opponents, and with a raucous home support in fine voice behind them, they really proved themselves on Europe’s biggest club stage. Moving the ball around well on a surface that was far from ideal, they could have had one or two goals. In particular, their insistence on playing positive, forward-moving football was a real testament to their eagerness. Judging from their display in Istanbul, they have a great foundation to cause a shock to reach the group stages, but they’ll certainly have to improve on their finishing. If they can maintain their gung-ho mentality, which is refreshingly far removed from the overly-physical, nasty tactics many rely on against the likes of Arsenal, Bilic’s charges will give Gunners’ fans a few nail-biting moments next time out.
Ba & Oguzhan impress
Emerging from the shadows of a turbulent spell at Stamford Bridge, Demba Ba’s move to Turkey could well turn out to be the smartest move of his career so far. Starting the match with a bang, he did his best to ruffle Wojciech Szczesny’s feathers with a shot straight from tip-off that had to be pushed onto the crossbar. And he continued to look lively with a number of opportunities to gift his side the lead. Most notably of all, he capitalised on a slip from Calum Chambers before gliding past Laurent Koscielny only to see his low-driven shot spin wide of the mark. Alongside him, it was former Arsenal youth player Oguzhan Oyzakup that returned to cause a few headaches for the visitors; underlining one of the occupational hazards of managers. Moving swiftly forward on numerous occasions, his service into the forward line, and his speed of thought allowed Besiktas to dominate possession in the opening half as well as giving them an outlet whenever they turned over the Londoners’ counter-attacks. These two will be key for the decisive leg, and if Arsenal intend on recouping some much-needed Champions League funds, they should be targeted and dealt with. But it’s not going to be easy.